LVMH has launched the first new luxury fashion house since 1987 helmed by a strong female founder. And no, Phobe Philo hasn’t been lured out of self-imposed exile, neither has Maria Grazia Chiuri – the first female Artistic Director of Dior – started an eponymous brand.
Instead the honour went to Rihanna, and in lieu of an on-schedule runway show, a video posted on Instagram teased her first drop followed by a Parisian pop-up shop which drew support from the likes of Olivier Rousteing, Simon Porte Jacquemus, and Maria Grazia herself, and the launch of a digital – rather than a bricks-and-mortar – flagship on 29 May, all in the space of a week.
Fenty Creative Director Jahleel Weaver had the unenviable task of piecing together the screenshots of “angles, textures, colours” texted to him by Rihanna into a cohesive collection. The result is 18 looks of oversized shirting, louche suiting, in muted and neutral shades plus off-duty denim with endless options to reveal-and-conceal. And anyone who has a problem with Rihanna not designing her own collection would do well to remember that the recording artist rarely writes any of her own songs either.
Out of the big four, traditionally Paris and Milan have been the most resistant to the see-now-buy-now retail revolution favoured by London and New York, so does this mark this the end of luxury as we know it? Not necessarily. More likely, Fenty could be seen as an experiment by LVMH in fast(er), celebrity-focused, merch-driven fashion loved by millennials while eschewing traditional paths with minimal risk to heritage and clientele of the established maisons, and perhaps even a blueprint for the fashion houses of the future.
Photo: Glen Luchford